Misunderstanding Srila Bhaktivedanta
by Puru Das Adhikari
23 April 2002
In what has become an annual event, an article which attempts to dissuade the disciples of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and others from taking the association of a living mahabhagavat has appeared on the internet. “Understanding Narayana Maharaja” tries to make a false distinction between two acaryas, His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. These false accusations are supported only by rumours and the boldest of lies. Actually such feeble attempts at slander never cite any evidence from shastra or from Srila Prabhupada’s books. We simply see articles like this ever year when certain persons become nervous about Srila Narayana Maharaj’s upcoming summer tour of the United States. I thought the most appropriate response, in this case, is simply to offer some illuminating information about different acaryas from His Divine Grace’s books themselves. The thoughtful reader can apply these words by use of his own intelligence and discriminating ability.
Srila Prabhupada has written in Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita:
“Instead of being envious that Krsna consciousness is spreading all over the world by the grace of Lord Caitanya, those who are jealous should be happy, as indicated here by the words parama ullasa. But because they are kanistha-adhikaris or prakrta-bhaktas (materialistic devotees who are not advanced in spiritual knowledge), they are envious instead of happy, and they try to find faults in the Krsna consciousness movement...”
Cc. Adi lila 7.27
In a later purport to verse 37, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“ Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was an ideal acarya. An acarya is an ideal teacher who knows the purpose of the revealed scriptures, behaves exactly according to their injunctions and teaches his students to adopt these principles also. As an ideal acarya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu devised ways to capture all kinds of atheists and materialists. Every acarya has a specific means of propagating his spiritual movement with the aim of bringing men to Krsna consciousness. Therefore, the method of one acarya may be different from that of another, but the ultimate goal is never neglected. Srila Rupa Gosvami recommends:
tasmat kenapy upayena
manah krsne nivesayet
sarve vidhi-nisedha syur
etayor eva kinkarah
An acarya should devise a means by which people may somehow or other come to Krsna consciousness. First they should become Krsna conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced. In our Krsna consciousness movement we follow this policy of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu...”
“...It is the concern of the acarya to show mercy to the fallen souls. In this connection, desa-kala-patra (the place, the time and the object) should be taken into consideration...”
Cc. Adi lila 7.37-38
Srila Prabhupada writes in the Nectar of Devotion:
“Srila Rupa Gosvami states that his elder brother (Sanatana Gosvami) has compiled Hari-bhakti-vilasa for the guidance of the Vaisnavas and therein has mentioned many rules and regulations to be followed by the Vaisnavas. Some of them are very important and prominent, and Srila Rupa Gosvami will now mention these very important items for our benefit. The purport of this statement is that Srila Rupa Gosvami proposes to mention only basic principles, not details. For example, a basic principle is that one has to accept a spiritual master. Exactly how one follows the instructions of his spiritual master is considered a detail. For example, if one is following the instruction of his spiritual master and that instruction is different from the instructions of another spiritual master, this is called detailed information. But the basic principle of acceptance of a spiritual master is good everywhere, although the details may be different. Srila Rupa Gosvami does not wish to enter into details here, but wants to place before us only the principles...”
How to Discharge Devotional Service
“Although many different processes for developing love of Godhead have been explained so far, Srila Rupa Gosvami now gives us a general description of how one can best achieve such a high position. The beginning of ecstatic love of Godhead is basically faith. There are many societies and associations of pure devotees, and if someone with just a little faith begins to associate with such societies, his advancement to pure devotional service is rapid. The influence of a pure devotee is such that if someone comes to associate with him with a little faith, one gets the chance of hearing about the Lord from authoritative scriptures like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Thus, by the mercy of the Lord, who is situated in everyone's heart, one gradually develops his faith in the descriptions of such authoritative scriptures. This is the first stage of association with pure devotees. In the second stage, after one becomes a little advanced and mature, he automatically offers to follow the principles of devotional service under the guidance of the pure devotee and accepts him as the spiritual master. In the next stage, under the guidance of the spiritual master, the devotee executes regulative devotional service, and as a result of such activities, he becomes freed from all unwanted occupations. When he is freed from unwanted occupations, his faith becomes steadily fixed, and he develops a transcendental taste for devotional service, then attachment, then ecstasies, and in the last stage there is pure love of Godhead. These are the different stages of the development of pure love.”
Association with Pure Devotees
Devotional Service in Pure Love of God
The result of Srila Narayana Maharaja’s touring, preaching and writing is apparant .
There should be no loopholes in our understanding of this remark by His Divine Grace, spoken before the members of the Bombay Gaudiya Matha, circa l936:
“Gentlemen, the offering of such an homage as has been arranged this evening to the acaryadeva is not a sectarian concern, for when we speak of the fundamental principle of gurudeva or acaryadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my guru from yours or anyone else’s.
There is only one guru, who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me and all others.
In the Mundaka Upanisad (1.2.12) it is said:
tad-vijnartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
"In order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, who is fixed in the Absolute Truth."
Thus it has been enjoined herewith that in order to receive that transcendental knowledge, one must approach the guru. Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the guru cannot be two. The acaryadeva to whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the jagad-guru, or the guru of all of us, the only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly”
Lastly in Cc. Madhya lila Ch. 22 we read
'sadhu-sanga', 'sadhu-sanga'----sarva-sastre kaya
lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya
sadhu-sanga sadhu-sanga--association with pure devotees; sarva-sastre--all the revealed scriptures; kaya--say; lava-matra--even for a moment; sadhu-sange--by association with a devotee; sarva-siddhi--all success; haya--there is.
"The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment's association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.
According to astronomical calculations, lava is one eleventh of one second
Sri Cc. Madhya lila Ch.22, Txt 54
The Process of Devotional Service
Om Tat Sat
Puru Das Adhikari
Gour Govinda Gaudiya Matha
Birmingham, UK April 22,2002